Tag Archive for Women in Comics

Forgotten story of Women’s Hospitals retold in WWI comic anthology

Women solidersThe story of how a determined group of women made a huge contribution to the war effort has been retold in graphic form for an anthology marking the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War.

Selina Lock is the author of Go home and Sit Still which tells the true story of the Scottish Women’s Hospital, created by Dr. Inglis, a woman surgeon whose services were refused by the army.  Instead of ‘going home and sitting still’ as the army instructed, she created a unique hospital to look after troops in Russia.

The story is featured in To End All Wars: the Graphic Anthology of the First World War, published by Soaring Penguin Press, an anthology of 26 short graphic narratives based on actual events, places and people.

Lock is a Research Information Advisor at the University of Leicester and a contributor and editor to several comics anthologies. Lock recalls, “When I started researching women in the First World War I came across several accounts from women who had been involved in the Scottish Women’s Hospitals and thought they were an inspiring group.

to-end-all-wars-Go-Home-and-Sit-Still-Selina-Lock-Arthur-Goodman“There is an underlying message of feminism to the story because the SWH evolved from the suffrage movement. They wanted to support the war effort, while showing that women could contribute many different skills. But mainly I wanted to tell their story because I had no idea there were British women out in Russia running hospitals during WWI and I thought other people would also find that interesting.

“One of the editors John Clark, a political cartoonist from Nottingham, contacted me about the anthology as he knew me and my previous comic strip work. They were a few months into the project and realised they didn’t have any strips looking at the experiences of women during the First World War and asked if I’d be interested in pitching some ideas.

“I’m thrilled that my story ‘Go Home and Sit Still’, illustrated by Arthur Goodman, was included because it’s a high quality collection of comic strips, inspired by true stories. I feel it does a good job of showcasing a wide range of experiences from different people and different cultures rather than just focusing on the most familiar aspects of the war.”

‘Soda Pop Anthology’ Showcases Comics by Puerto Rican Women

Soda Pop Anthology is a collection of comics illustrated and written by Puerto Rican women and published independently by a studio of female comics writers, Soda Pop Comics.

Created as a vehicle to document this growing and vastly under represented community of artists its purpose is to establish greater visibility and acceptance for its female creators. Beyond the world of comics, few volumes published on the island of Puerto Rico share such a noble (and difficult) task. As such, it is important to address the “Soda Pop Anthology” as the beginning.

Soda Pop Comics was founded in 2007 by Rosa Colón and Carla Rodríguez in an effort to push other women to create their own comics. These initial efforts resulted in six collections of work under the stamp of “Anthology,” and gave way to four additional editions that were digitally distributed in 2013. The Soda Pop Anthology, gathers the best material from last year in 152 color pages and includes stories created specifically for this print edition.


“Opus Operática” by Rosaura Rodríguez; “El lemur y el pulpo” by Mónica Parada.

A total of 26 artists have participated in the effort, from beginners to more established and experienced voices, offering a fairly comprehensive and complete panorama of the current comic’s production on the island. Beyond the central concept — Puerto Rican women creating comics — there is no forced narrative nor theme that structures the collection.

Each pair of pages takes the reader down a different path — from Rosaura Rodríguez’s semantic games in watercolor to Mónica Parada’s raw absurdity, from the light and playful spirit that characterizes Soda Pop’s work, to Ivia E. Pantoja’s sci-fi imagination with a Japanese influence. Each are complimented with articles on the history of comics and tutorials.


“Aventuras en el mar” by Soda Pop Comics; “Niveles” by Supakid.

The Soda Pop Anthology is an essential publication for collectors of Puerto Rican comics and the hope is that it results in a greater appreciation of the medium. Those who know Soda Pop Comics’ work know the anthology is a link in a grand chain of initiatives — between exhibits, art classes, festivals, scholarship opportunities, and other social activities — aimed at promoting the production of comics on the island of Puerto Rico. Its importance shines through because of its introduction of new artists — and an invitation to join and participate.

Get your copy for a limited time at Libros AC in Ponce De León Avenue in Santurce or order it online at Soda Pop Comics and Amazon.

Cartoonist Roz Chast Receives National Book Award nod

Roz Chast is the first cartoonist to be honored by the National Book Awards in the adult categories when her newest book, “Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?” was named to the Nonfiction Longlist for the 2014 Awards.

51-pNcJRB9L._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_ “Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?” is Chast’s account of caring for her aging parents.

Chast is the only woman on this year’s list. The Wall Street Journal noted that, between this nomination and Alison Bechdel’s MacArthur “genius grant,” ”It’s a good day to be a female cartoonist.”

Chast replied, “I totally agree. Actually my first thought was just it’s good for cartoons, for the graphic form.”

Chast’s cartoons have been published in many magazines, including The New Yorker, Scientific American, Harvard Business Review, Redbook, and Mother Jones.

She is the author of “Theories of Everything: Selected, Collected, and Health-Inspected Cartoons of Roz Chast, 1978-2006,” a compilation of her favorite cartoons. She also illustrated “The Alphabet from A to Y, with Bonus Letter, Z,” a bestselling children’s book by Steve Martin.

Her awards and honors include honorary doctorates from Dartmouth College, Lesley University/Art Institute of Boston, and Pratt Institute. She is also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a
Montgomery Fellow at Dartmouth College.

For more on Chast, visit her website.

The National Book Award is one of the nation’s most prestigious literary prizes. Winners will be announced at the invitation-only National Book Awards Ceremony and Benefit Dinner on November 19 in New York City. To see the full list of nominees or for more information, visit its website.

Artist Alison Bechdel Receives MacArthur Fellowship

They say good things come in threes, whether or not the adage is true, that’s exactly what’s happened to Alison Bechdel this summer.

Thing One: a six-week artist residency in a 15th-century castle in rural Umbria, Italy.

Thing Two: the news that Bechdel’s musical Fun Home — which had a critically acclaimed run at New York City’s Public Theater last year — is going to be produced on Broadway. And no sooner had she settled in at the castle than Thing Three happened: a call from the MacArthur Foundation telling Bechdel she’d won a fellowship.

The five-year grant comes with $625,000. The MacArthur website explains: “The fellowship is designed to provide recipients with the flexibility to pursue their own artistic, intellectual, and professional activities in the absence of specific obligations or reporting requirements.”

This is not an award one applies for; individuals are nominated and selected anonymously for a MacArthur. So to say Bechdel was surprised is an understatement.

“I really felt like — it was almost like someone hit me, like a physical blow,” she said in a phone call from Umbria, where she’s about to finish up her residency. “First I get to come to this amazing place, then I find out about Fun Home, then I get the call about the MacArthur.”

Ever modest, Bechdel said she initially struggled with feelings that she wasn’t worthy. “So many people deserve it,” she said, then quickly added, “It would be criminal to have any kind of negative reaction to it. But it’s pretty stunning and hard to get used to.”

Since the selection committee is anonymous, no one is available to be asked, “Why Alison Bechdel?” But the bio provided by the foundation fairly answers that question. An excerpt:

Alison Bechdel is a cartoonist and graphic memoirist exploring the complexities of familial relationships in multilayered works that use the interplay of word and image to weave sophisticated narratives. Bechdel’s command of sequential narrative and her aesthetic as a visual artist was established in her long-running comic strip, Dykes to Watch Out For (1983–2008), which realistically captured the lives of women in the lesbian community as they influenced and were influenced by the important cultural and political events of the day.

Garnering a devoted and diverse following, this pioneering work was a precursor to her book-length graphic memoirs. Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic (2006) is a nuanced depiction of a childhood spent in an artistic family in a small Pennsylvania town and of her relationship with her father, a high school English teacher and funeral home director. An impeccable observer and record keeper, Bechdel incorporates drawings of archival materials, such as diaries, letters, photographs, and news clippings, as well as a variety of literary references in deep reflections into her own past.

The Fun Home musical, based on Bechdel’s graphic memoir, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in drama and was honored with other awards including the New York Drama Critics’ Circle. When it reopens at Circle in the Square next spring, it will be completely restaged but have the same director, Obie-winning Sam Gold, according to a notice in the New York Times. Bechdel said she didn’t know if any, some or all of the Public Theater cast would come to Broadway. “It’s pretty much out of my hands,” she said. “I’m just decorative.”

Fun Home is expected to open for preview performances on April 4, 2015, and open on April 22. That’s just before the deadline for Tony Award nominees at the end of April, noted the Times.

IMG_10091-337x450At Umbria’s Civitella Ranieri, Bechdel produced and documented on her blog, a 10-meter-long scroll filled with life-size drawings in charcoal. Many of them are of herself practicing strenuous yoga poses. The physical activity, she said, helped get her “out of her head.” In one of the more humorous panels on the scroll, Bechdel is shown wearing a monk-like robe and washing her clothes in a sink. A downside of living in a castle, she noted: no washing machine.

A glance at the foundation’s website suggests there aren’t many other drawbacks. The enormous 400-year-old castle is nestled among lush, green hills and a nearby vineyard. She’s one of 10 fellows from five countries in residence right now, so there’s plenty of international stimulation. She’s spent her time there, Bechdel said, focused on drawing. And that scroll? “People actually want it here,” she said, sounding relieved about not having to ship it home. “They have plenty of room to display it.”

After Bechdel finishes up her residency in Umbria, she’ll travel for a week and then come home. And she’s looking forward to it. “I’ve been working and traveling so much,” she said. “I miss Vermont.”

To see more of that work, check out the video below:

Cosplay, Controversy & Comics

SAN DIEGO, CA — Amid the costumes and fantasy of this past weekend’s San Diego Comic Convention, it was clear early on that women were playing an even larger role within the genre.

Not only were they dominating the cosplay game, an increasing number of panels were geared toward gender and sexuality.

Thursday alone had three popular panels – most with standing room only, “The Most Dangerous Women at Comic Con,” “Creating Awesome Female Characters,” and a panel on transgender trends in pop culture.

The level of female participation in comic book, sci-fi, and fantasy fandom in contrast to the amount of popular media in those genres aimed at the opposite sex is always a good shock to the system.

Sadly, controversy still runs high regarding allegations sexual harassment at the annual event.

For years, costumed attendees — or cosplayers — have complained that verbal and physical harassment is all too common at Comic-Con conventions. Fans of comic books, science-fiction or fantasy genres often attend the lively event dressed as their favorite fictional characters, but some women attendees say they are too-often subjected to lewd comments, catcalls, groping and creepy photographers who aim lenses at their breasts or up their skirts.

Geeks for CONsent, founded by three women from Philadelphia, gathered nearly 2,600 signatures on an online petition supporting a formal anti-harassment policy at Comic-Con.

“Comic-Con has an explicit Code of Conduct that addresses harassing and offensive behavior,” said Comic-Con International in a statement on Sunday to The Associated Press. “This Code of Conduct is made available online as well as on page two of the Events Guide that is given to each attendee.”

In addition, Comic-Con spokesman David Glanzer told the Los Angeles Times, “anyone being made to feel uncomfortable at our show is obviously a concern for us.” Additional security was in place this year, including an increased presence by San Diego Police.

But Geeks for CONsent argues that the policy is too vague, and that other events such as Comic-Con Seattle, have taken greater steps to protect attendees. At Seattle’s Emerald City Comic-Con, large signs warning that harassment will not be tolerated and “costumes are not consent” are visibly posted throughout the convention. The group launched an interactive Google map to collect and display the stories of harassment experienced by cosplayers at fan conventions.

Geeks for CONsent is also asking Comic-Con to post an anti-harassment policy throughout the convention venue and provide one-hour training for volunteers, teaching them how to respond to harassment reports.

Amid strong support, it remains to be seen how SDCC will respond for next year’s event.

Here’s a look at some of this year’s best cosplayers at San Diego – complete with surprise cosplayer Director Peter Jackson who walked the con unnoticed!


Kymera Press Aims to Break Down Gender Barriers

issue_one_cover_one-197x300Kymera Press founders Debbie Lynn Smith and Maggie Field are adding another sledgehammer to the gender barrier wall in comics. “Our mission is to give women creators and artists of comic books an outlet where they can create women-friendly comics. Our secondary mission is to encourage more women to read and enjoy comics,” said Debbie.

The founders of Kymera Press met when Field was working as a film and television literary agent who took on Smith as a client. When Maggie closed her agency in 2006, the two remained friends and occasionally worked on projects together.

The seeds for Kymera Press were sown when Field suggested Smith turn her television pilot script, Gates of Midnight into a comic book. The next year and a half was spent researching comics, taking seminars and talking to people in the comic industry. “When Maggie suggested I turn it into a comic book, I was skeptical. I hadn’t read comics since the Archie Comics when I was a kid. Imagine my surprise as I started reading the independent comics like Saga, The Last Man, Voice in the Dark, Fatale, Ghosted, and Afterlife with Archie I could go on and on. I turned into a total fan and have spent lots of money catching up on what I’ve been missing all these years.”

In the course of their research Smith and Field attended ImageCon. “Debbie and I were in research mode when we attended ImageCon in San Francisco in July of 2013. It was a one-day event, and as the day progressed we noticed that everyone on the stage, everyone on every panel was male,” said Field.

“In the hotel room late that afternoon, we had a long conversation about how what we wanted to do went far beyond just putting out my comic Gates of Midnight. We decided then and there to use all women in the development of Gates,” said Smith. “And we decided that we wanted to provide an outlet for the incredibly talented women currently working or trying to break into the comic world.”

While the first four issues of Gates of have been funded and in various stages of production, Kymera Press initiated a Kickstarter campaign, to fund issues 5-8 and a graphic novel that will collect issues 1-8 in one place.  Unfortunately, the campaign did not reach its goal. However, don’t count these ladies out just yet, their tenacity and focus is admirable and consumers are ready for change.  If you’d like to learn more about Kymera Press, visit the website at www.kymerapress.com or the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/kymerapress.


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